The Mental Health Act: What it is and its existence

Antima Jain

Antima Jain

Content Writer

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The Mental Health Act provides a legal framework concerned for people who require psychiatric assessment and treatment

The Indian Mental Healthcare Act received presidential assent on April 7th, 2017. & replaced the 1987 Act. The Mental Health Act provides a legal framework concerned for people who require psychiatric assessment and treatment.

The Mental Health Act defines a mental disorder as:

“An abnormal state of mind that diminishes the capacity of that person to take care of himself or herself, impairs judgment, behavior & the ability to recognize reality & meet the daily demands of life.”

The Mental Health Act is a patient-centric act that gives the person the right to make an advance directive that is a written advancement stating how that person wants to be cured & how they don’t want to be cured.

Equality – 

The Mental Health Act ensures that every person shall be treated equally with equal healthcare under section21 which states that, “ every person with mental illness shall be treated equally as a person with the physical illness are treated in the provision of all healthcare. for an instance, if a person A with mental illness is seeking admission in the hospital. Usually, the doctor & the patient can collaboratively decide whether he should be admitted or not. But under the section 21, it is stated that admission to the hospital will require a proper diagnosis. unfortunately, a person with mental health diagnosis is unlikely to make decisions for himself in that case, the medical officer has to be satisfied with the diagnosis.

Role of caregivers –

Single persons living without family or caregivers might struggle to get appropriate care because they are most likely to be declared as lacking decision-making skills. In this case, the person has all the rights to choose their nominated caregiver who acts as their decision-makers by requesting in the district review board. The government of India, through the new act, has decided not to put responsibilities on the family’s shoulders. 

Why the Mental Healthcare Act important?

Mental Healthcare Act is important for protecting the rights & well-being of people with mental illness. Effective care requires a legal framework to overcome stigma & discrimination.

WHO & the International guiding principles for mental health ensures that all human rights including the person’s consent, right to privacy, confidentiality, freedom from cruel, unusual treatment should be guaranteed by the legislation.